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France Warns Gabon: Protect Our Citizens, We Are Watching



France has called on Gabon to fully cooperate as it exercises consular protection per the Vienna Convention for its nationals arrested during the post-election violence.This was expressed on Friday in a statement by the French foreign office after Prime Minister Manuel Valls had on Tuesday requested the whereabouts of some 15 Franco-Gabonese since the beginning of the crisis.

“France remains attentive to the situation of many of its nationals who it wishes to exercise consular protection under the Vienna Convention. It calls for the full cooperation of the Gabonese authorities,” it said.

The Gabonese foreign ministry announced later that the French binational citizens in the central African country had been arrested and detained during the post-election violence. They also emphasized that the arrested are subject to Gabonese laws which says “binational Gabonese citizens residing in the country cannot make use of another nationality”.

A special court in Gabon has however released two of the Franco-Gabonese nationals on Wednesday who were arrested when they went to an area to assess the extent of damage caused during the post-election protest.

France added in its statement on Friday that it was closely following the case in the oil-rich Central African country which is home to 14,000 of its citizens and a permanent military base. “(The court) must examine (the results) with transparency and impartiality and all means must be put in place to ensure the respect of its principles and establishment of the integrity of the vote,” Jean-Marc Ayrault said in the statement.

President Ali Bongo Ondimba was declared winner of the 2016 presidential elections last Wednesday resulting in violence after the opposition led by Jean Ping rejected the results calling it a fraud. The opposition has filed a petition at the Constitutional Court to authorise a recount in a province where President Ali Bongo won 95 percent of the votes on a 99.9 percent turnout.

But he has already said he has no faith in the judicial body he thinks is too close to the government, and suggested on Friday that people would take to the streets if it does not order a recount.


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